Practical information about Laos

  1. The climate of Laos

Laos has a tropical climate and high temperatures all year round. However, the weather may vary somewhat between lowland and highland regions and between north and south. The year of Laos can be divided into two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.

The dry season lasts roughly from November to April. Temperatures are pleasant during these months, there are plenty of sunny hours and little rainfall.

Towards the end of the season, temperatures start to rise, and by the beginning of the rainy season it may already be really hot.

The rainy season lasts from about May to October. The rainy season is warmer through the dry season – and naturally wetter. Rain rains usually come heavy during the night or early in the morning, but they rarely last longer than a couple of hours. Rainfall, on the other hand, purifies the air and makes nature green.

Despite the rains, the temperatures are quite high these months.

Average. highest temperature 27 31 33 34 34 32 32 32 32 31 29 26
Average. lowest temperature 14 16 18 21 24 25 24 24 23 21 18 14
Precipitation e.g. 15 19 30 108 147 258 228 289 173 126 40 10
Average. highest temperature 28 31 33 34 33 32 31 31 31 31 30 28
Average. lowest temperature 14 15 18 21 23 24 24 23 23 21 18 14
Precipitation e.g. 9 18 49 174 369 489 840 662 508 115 44 23
Average. highest temperature 28 30 33 34 33 32 31 31 31 31 30 28
Average. lowest temperature 16 19 22 24 27 25 25 25 24 23 19 17
Precipitation e.g. 8 13 34 85 246 280 272 335 297 78 11 3
  1. When should you travel to Laos?

Laos has a lot to see all year round.

The dry season (c. November to April) is the time of the high season in Laos, when the weather is warm, sunny and light rain. The rainy season (from May to October), on the other hand, is usually very hot, and rainfall is more abundant and common. On the other hand, at this time of year, nature is greener and there are fewer tourists.

  1. Languages

The official language of Laos is Lao, but the tourist is doing well in English as well. The Lao language is also written with its own writing system, which may seem impossible to understand from the Western. The following is a list of some useful words and phrases:

Hello: Sabaidee
Thank you: Khob Jai
Thank you very much: Khob Jai lai lai
Yes: Chao
No: Bor
Not fiery: BorPhet
Sorry: Khorthod
Goodbye: La gone

  1. Visa

As a Finnish citizen, you need a visa to Laos. You will receive a visa at the airport upon entry. As always when traveling abroad, you also need a valid Finnish passport. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months after leaving Laos.

You will need a passport, 2 passport photos and $ 30 cash for a tourist visa.

  1. Currency

According to Countryaah, the currency of Laos is KIP (LAK). Kip is a protected currency, which means that it is not possible to exchange it in advance.

We recommend that you bring some US dollars in cash (preferably large banknotes such as $ 20, $ 50, and $ 100 banknotes) that you can exchange at an official exchange point. Be prepared that you cannot exchange large dollar bills for smaller dollar bills. Therefore, we recommend that you also bring some US dollars in small banknotes (1, 5 and 10 USD).

In many places, dollars (baht near the Thai border) are preferred. General credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted at Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane, where ATMs are also available. Outside the cities, ATMs are scarce, and credit cards are not valid in very many places.

  1. Price level

Laos is generally one of the cheapest countries in the Far East, especially in terms of local products. However, this does not apply to imported goods, whose prices are usually even higher than in neighboring countries. The guide below applies to cities. In rural areas, prices are usually even lower and the range is smaller.

  • In street places:
    Noodle soup 15000 kip
    Noodles with pork or chicken and vegetables: 15000 kip
    Baguette: 15000 kip
  • In restaurants:
    Restaurant serving western food, from 45000 kip
    Restaurant with fixed Laotian menu, from 60000 kip
  • Drinks:
    Soft drink: 7000 kip
    Beer (Laotian bottle) 12000 kip
  • Other products:
    T-shirt / bag 30000 – 150000 kip
    Phone 200000 – 250000 kip
    SIM card 10000 – 30000 kip
    Bicycle rental 20000 kip
  1. Drink money

Gratuities are welcome, but you can, of course, decide for yourself how much gratuity you give. Below are the indicative amounts:

  • Piccolo: 1 USD
  • Cleaner: $ 1 per day
  • Guides: $ 5 – $ 10 per day / person depending on service
  • Drivers: $ 3 – $ 5 per day / person depending on service
  • Restaurants: In modern restaurants, the service fee is sometimes included in the price, and therefore there is no need to pay a separate gratuity. Drink money is not expected in traditional restaurants, but if you wish, you can leave some small money on the table when you leave.

In our gratuity guidelines, amounts are given in U.S. dollars, however, on-site gratuities are paid in local currency.

  1. Time difference

The time difference between Laos and Finland varies depending on whether Finland has summer time or winter time.
In summer +4 hours: when the clock is 12 in Finland, in Laos it is 16. In
winter +5 hours: when it is 12 in Finland, in Laos it is 17.

  1. Electricity

In Laos, the voltage is usually 230 V. In most places, the plugs are double-ended. Other types of plugs can be used, so book an adapter for the trip.

  1. Telephone and internet

According to AllCityCodes, the international area code for Laos is +856. In Laos, making and receiving a call can be expensive. Check your mobile phone coverage and prices with your mobile operator. If you need to make frequent or long calls or want to send a lot of text messages, it may be smart to get a local SIM card. Larger cities have internet cafes, and most hotels have WiFi.

  1. Security

Laos is generally a safe destination. Crime in general and crime against tourists in particular is relatively low, and problems can always be avoided by caution and common sense. Avoid using expensive jewelry and displaying large sums of money in public.

Laos was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, and large quantities of landmines were buried in the country. Especially in the eastern parts of the country – that is, far from tourist destinations – there are still unexploded Ordinance (UXO) and areas where mines have not been cleared. However, these areas are located far from the areas we travel on and outside of tourist areas in general. In the Valley of Pots, we ONLY visit areas where bombs and landmines have been cleared. When you always follow the safety instructions in this guide, you don’t have to worry unnecessarily.

  1. Meals and beverages

Traditional Laotian cuisine uses plenty of game, wild boar and freshwater fish. The freshness of the ingredients is very important and the Laotians are happy to cook their own meals from the very beginning. Almost all dishes use spices such as galanagal and lemongrass, and all meals include a fish sauce called padaek. The words related to the dishes are:

  • Laap: a traditional dish consisting of heavily seasoned and marinated, sometimes also raw meat and / or fish and roasted rice. Also known as larb.
  • Khao niao: porridge rice or so-called sticky rice. (As in neighboring countries, rice is a staple food in Laos. Sticky rice is typically preferred here, which is mashed and rolled with fingers into small balls that are dipped in sauce.)
  • Tamarkhong: papaya salad
  • Markphet: chili

Use only bottled water as drinking water. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere. Never drink tap water. Always make sure the ice cubes are made from bottled water.

  1. Your luggage

We use many different airlines on our trips to Laos, so the amount of luggage allowed may vary for both checked-in luggage and hand luggage. Baggage information can be found on the flight ticket. You can also contact us if you have any questions about our luggage. If your trip includes a domestic flight to Laos, the maximum amount of luggage is 20 kg.
Make sure you have all the essentials in your hand luggage. Essential goods include passports, airline tickets, insurance documents, credit cards, money, prescriptions and vital medicines. In addition, you should pack a camera, binoculars, computer and tablet, as well as chargers and adapters in your hand luggage.

Due to the air conditioning, it can get cold on the plane, so pack a warm sweater or windbreaker in your hand luggage.

  1. Airport transfers

When you arrive at the airport in Laos, you will be greeted by our local representative, who will be identified by an sign in the Arrivals Hall. You will also be transported to the airport on the day of departure. The departure time of the transfer on the day of departure will be notified to you upon arrival in Laos.

  1. Etiquette and cultural differences

Experiencing cultural and etiquette differences is one of the pleasures of traveling, and it is important to respect these differences. The saying goes “in the country the way of the country,” and that’s why we’ve put together some advice and tips to help you get the most out of your trip to Laos.

  • If you’re angry, don’t let it show up. Showing irritation or frustration by shouting or rude behavior is extremely bad and degrading behavior, and it never results in any good. If you lose your temper, you will also lose your face, and that is a horror for the Laotians.
  • Avoid pointing with your finger, use your whole hand instead. Pointing with a finger is considered offensive.
  • Avoid public displays of affection, such as hugging or kissing, as it is considered offensive. It is extremely rare to see couples walking hand in hand. On the other hand, it is common to see male or female friends walking hand in hand.
  • Never go naked for a swim or sunbathe without a swimsuit, as it is considered completely inappropriate – even in a closed hotel area.
  • Always take your shoes off when you step into a private home or temple.
  • The Laotians greet each other by putting their hands together (fingers are not interleaved) and with a slight bow. It is polite for the younger person to greet first. In the case of foreigners and in connection with transactions, a (European) handshake is also acceptable.
  • Avoid touching another person’s head. The head is considered a sacred part of the body, and touching the head with the hand is believed to bring bad luck.
  • Always use either hand or just the right hand when handing something to the other or when you are being handed something. Never use only the left hand.
  • Avoid wearing shorts, short bottoms, and sleeveless shirts, especially in temples and places with few tourists. A visit to the temple should at least cover the knees and shoulders.
  • Take your shoes off before you enter the temple.
  • If you are sitting in front of a “dain” (Buddha Shrine), see that your feet are pointing away from the Buddha.
  • Women are allowed to hand over to a monk or receive an object from a monk, but women must never touch the monks.
  • Show respect when visiting the temple: turn off your cell phone, take your headphones off, speak at a lower volume, and avoid loud conversation.
  1. Local means of transport

The infrastructure in Laos is excellent, but getting around can take time. It is common in Laos to use both taxis and subsidies, and the price of the trip is always negotiated. There are also motorcycle taxis in Laos. We do not recommend using them, as it is not uncommon for a motorcycle taxi to have an accident. Also, many travel insurance companies do not cover potential accidents if you use a motorcycle taxi.

  1. Gifts and Grants

Laos is still a very poor country in some areas, which is why our local partners have given us the following guidelines on how to deal with donations and giving money:

  • NEVER give money to beggars, especially children. Giving money to beggars reinforces the impression that begging is an acceptable way of life. If children make money by begging, parents would rather send them to the streets to earn than to school.
  • The exception is the elderly and the disabled, who can be given a few coins.
  • NEVER give sweets to children you encounter in rural villages during the trip
  • Try to get rid of the idea that the gift should be material. Most often, just a smile, being together and making friends are the best gifts.

Practical information about Laos